The Medallion

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy.

I have to admit that this book got to me. I actually stayed up until 2:30am to finish it. I don't believe I had read a lot about WWII in Poland. Parts of this book were hard to read, can't even imagine what these people went through. I did shed a few tears while reading this book.
If you like to read about WWII then this book is for you.
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I love reading about this time period. It is inspiring to hear the stories (fiction and non-fiction) about the many people who fought to find and keep hope in these most trying of times. The Medallion follows two story line as individuals attempt to survive in increasingly dangerous circumstances. As the characters lives become intertwined the medallion from the title comes into play as a beautiful connection to the past and a symbol of love and sacrifice.  This is a book that was read with tears as I grieved over goodbyes and dared to hope when threads of possibility were found.  I highly recommend this one!
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It’s difficult to write a review that does justice to this book. This story is heartbreaking and it’s been quite an emotional read for me.  Cathy Gohlke has clearly shown us the atrocities committted towards the Jewish people during World War II, and made it so personal with the characters in this book that I felt as if I’d known them.  I admired the courage and sacrifice that it took for Rosa, Itzhak, and Sophie to save the life of little Charlotte/Ania.  This story took a different turn towards the end that I did not expect, My heart hurt for everyone all the way through the book.  Once again, I was reminded of how many individuals risked so much to protect the lives of as many Jewish children that they could.  The author did a wonderful job taking her historical research and turning in into a moving story that I think will stay with me for a long time.  

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from NetGalley. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.

Heartbreaker is the only word I can think of to truly sum up this one. It’s an exquisite tale of a few families facing the horrors of WWII. How many tears the author poured into this story I cannot possibly know, but, I’ll tell you, I gave her a run for her money! I cried in a vacation rental house, in the car on the way home, and into my pillow once I’d gotten home and found time around unpacking and catching up on laundry for those last heartrending chapters. That’s one thing about Mrs. Gohlke’s WWII fiction: it’s certain to make me weep, because it’s filled with raw and vulnerable emotions that I love experiencing while reading.

It was wonderful to see real-life people make appearances that were crucial to the plot. Irena Sendler, Jan and Antonina Zabinski, and Dr. Janusz Korczak provided splashes of truth to the wealth of rich details that Mrs. Gohlke infused into every page of this novel. From the wedding to open the book to the hardships of living in the Polish and Lithuanian ghettos during the second World War to the traumatic forced labor… every scene swept me away into a time in history I’m glad I personally missed. I’m so grateful for the ways in which God inspired and helped and encouraged those who did live through it. My heart breaks at the thought of how many starved or froze to death and those who were so callously murdered by the Nazi regime. Such a tragic time in our planet’s, in all of humanity’s, history, and I hope we take books like this seriously so we remember the dark places we’ve been. If we don’t, they will be repeated.

The only drawbacks about this book for me: two expletives, tobacco, alcohol and pubs, and one character’s name suddenly changing for the “part two” section of the book. It was a slight alteration, but it threw me off for several chapters. Maybe I simply missed that her husband had, early on, called her something different than her POV revealed. But it seemed odd to me when the switch happened, so I don’t think his name for her was emphasized early on. Anyway, those things pulled me from the story enough to dock one star. But I still very much cherished this story and its raw emotions and big heart. It’s very impactful and meaningful, and I know it will have gobs of fans.
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Although the subject of this book made it hard to read (emotionally), it was one of the best books I’ve read this year. The author truly made me feel what the main characters were feeling, whether that be joy or pain, and that kept me totally engaged in the story.

This was the first book I’ve read by Cathy Gohlke but I will read her books in the future. This one would be great for my book club to read and discuss. I really liked how she tied everything together in the end and came up with a satisfactory ending.

I received this book from the publisher via net galley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are mine alone.
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The Medallion is a WWII historical fiction novel by author Cathy Gohlke. The setting is Warsaw, Poland (1939). I wanted to read this novel because I have an interest in WWII.

I learned: Jews were rationed only a fraction of what the Poles were, not enough to live on; The only way for Jews to survive, and not starve, was to buy food on the black market, and helping the Jews was illegal, which many Poles did.

This is a highly emotional novel, though I didn’t really get into it until about halfway through. If the reader wants to learn more about the dark side of war I suggest this book, parts of it are pretty graphic. There were times I wanted to scream at the vileness of war and other times cry at the atrocity of it. This was a hard novel to read, but no doubt it described all acts of war.

Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
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One of the things that I love about being a book blogger - is that I get to discover amazing authors. This was a new author to me. I fell in love with the cover and the description. As a history nerd, I love reading about all things 1860-1980. In this book we travel to WWII. The author has done careful research to ensure a accurate historical adventure. Such well written characters. The author presents a story line that will get all in your feels. You will laugh you will cry. The author takes you on such an adventujre as she tackles unthinkable situations. Itzchak and Janek, the heroes of the story,are such noble characters. You will be drawn to them instantly. 

I received a copy of this book through the Celebrate Lit Blogging program. All thoughts are my own.
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My Thoughts:
Get the box of tissues ready before you start this book.  For real.  

I love history and was eager to read this book as I’ve been devouring all things WWII lately.  Part of that is that I have been attending a few reenactments with my husband as babies allow me and partly just because it was a very complex time in our history that I am seeking to better understand. 

The cover.  Oh my.  This cover is gorgeous.  Even without knowing what the book is about the cover draws me to open and read the book.  I’m a sucker for a good cover. 

Definitely, have your tissue handy as I mentioned earlier.  This is a well written, can’t put it down, tear-jerker of a book. 

As a mother, I cannot even imagine handing over my much loved and prayed for child to another.  Not knowing if I would ever see him or her again, but knowing that if I didn’t they would not live.  Oh my. Tears.  All the mama emotions. 

The Medallion sucks you in like no book I’ve read before.  I had to keep reading.  Missing even one word was not an option because I HAD to know what would happen.  I love that this mixes history with fiction.  

Characters can make or break a story and the characters in this book are the best!  You really feel that you know them.  When they mourn you mourn, when they rejoice, you rejoice.  Be prepared for all the emotions.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history, for anyone who loves a good heartfelt read, for anyone who just wants to lose themselves in a book.  In fact, it might be a good book to add to the pile of WWII history books that you compile for school for high schoolers.  Definitely find some on Irena Sandler to add to that history book basket.

I have voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from Celebrate Lit. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.
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With each stroke of the pen a word brings life into a story that deepens your emotions and grabs your soul with heartbreak. The author has delivered one of the most soul searching stories ever written. We don’t just read what the characters go through, she allows us to feel it with penetrating words. 

Survival is a strong word in this story as characters must hide from an enemy who wants nothing more than to eliminate them. It is hard to imagine that hatred of a certain race was so prevalent that the only outcome for many was death. The camps were deplorable and food was so scarce that a morsel was a treasure to get. 

There are a few characters that really stand out for their determination and bravery. As I read the story I cried for the lost souls who died because of prejudice. There was no mercy, only pain and agonizing suffering . Can you imagine what it would be like to send your child away to keep them safe not knowing if you would ever reunite with them? 

Freedom for some is just a word said in passing. Freedom for some is being able to walk the streets without fear, to worship without retribution and freedom is everything to these characters that the author shares with us. Her ability to make a story play out in front of you is a gift only a few can accomplish. 

This sentence broke me as I read it; “ You don’t even know what it’s like to be hungry , to be so cold you fear you might die before morning if you sleep -you fear and you hope.”  That is what the characters in this book endured and the author helps us understand what being captive, hated and tortured means . 

I couldn't put the book down because the characters had become like family. I needed to know if they were safe. I prayed that the gift given to a small child would bring her back to her family.I needed to finish the story and remind myself that freedom is not to be taken for granted.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke is a wonderful and poignant historical novel. Having read another book by this author, I was very interested in reading this one and was not disappointed. With an intensely emotional impact, this story keeps the reader's attention from start to finish. The story portraying the German occupation of Poland during WWII and the aftermath of the war is told from two couple’s perspectives and it is apparent the author has an excellent grasp on the history of that era. The horrors of the upheaval of the Jewish peoples, the division of families, the difficult decisions individuals had to make to survive, the grueling work of forced labor, the trains to the death camps are realistically illustrated. Family loyalties, faith in God, Adonai, and forgiveness are central themes throughout. Can one child bring redemption to the two couple’s lives? Hope springs eternal even in the darkest of hours…it is always amazing to me that individuals who have lived through the barbarity and brutality of war still dare to hope—just a little—for the future. This is not a 'happy forever after' type book but a thought-provoking, soul-searching book that is rich and complex in its message. All in all, this is a book not to be missed.
I received a complimentary copy of this book via CelebrateLit. A favorable review was not required and opinions are my own. This review is part of a CelebrateLit blog tour.
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This is one of the most difficult books that I have ever read. In all honesty, were it not for the fact that I was reading it for review, I would have set it aside or at least read it in small portions. I took English classes focused on the Holocaust during college and have read a fair amount of literature from and about that time period. However, Cathy Gohlke’s “The Medallion” really struck a nerve. It took me a while to adjust to the alternating viewpoints of the chapters, which eventually converge, because from the very beginning I fell headlong into the harrowing world Gohlke describes and had to reset my mind when the characters changed with the next chapter so that I did not confuse one storyline with the other. Several of the characters in the story are real historical figures, and some of the plotline is inspired by true events. That, coupled with the focus on relationships and hardships both during and after WWII, truly tore at my heartstrings. 

Be forewarned: this is not a light, happily-ever-after read. The devastation and horror are compounded by the realization that they are historically accurate. This story raises many tough questions, some of which are addressed in the discussion questions provided at the end of the book. “The Medallion” takes readers from the early days of the war to its aftermath, and the journey is heartbreaking. Sophie Kumiega is not Jewish but encounters the dangers and desolation wrought by the German occupation of Poland, leading her to work for the underground and to take over care of a Jewish toddler, Ania. Through Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich, Ania’s parents, readers witness life in the Warsaw ghetto and what comes after. 

Unlike many Holocaust narratives, “The Medallion” does not take place in a concentration camp, save for a brief scene. Learning about the work of the underground and those working within that network to save lives sheds light on the heroics of those who challenged the Nazi agenda. Just as compelling is part two, which takes place after the war ends. It is an important reminder of how unsettled and dangerous the world still was for the refugees. Post-traumatic stress plays a role as well, and I was glad that the author included this because it was doubtless a struggle for all of the survivors, including those who were not Jewish, and obviously the struggle did not end when peace was declared. The fate of the children aided through the underground network and what it meant for their future becomes a key element in the second section. 

Although “The Medallion” is heartrending and sobering, I would still recommend it, especially for anyone who is not familiar with the impact of the German occupation of Poland during WWII. The faith element offers both a refuge in the midst of the tragedy and the hope of redemption. One thing that opened my eyes was that the Jewish aversion to Jesus resulted in part because the German oppressors claimed to be Christians. Still, faith in God guides the characters, Jewish and Gentile alike, throughout the trials of war and its reverberations, and it is the same faith that is available to each and every one of us today. This is one of the main messages of the story, that true faith means taking action and putting others before oneself, hopefully causing onlookers to question their unbelief.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
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The Medallion is a tale that intertwines the lives of two couples, one Jewish and another Polish/English as they try to survive WWII in Warsaw, Poland.  Their experiences begin with the German invasion and continue as they help others and try to survive such a horrific time.  The lives of the characters intersect with the medallion and a little girl. 
For such a dark point in our history, the book reveals stories of people who went through great lengths to help others, even those they did not know.  Gohkle has beautifully written a book that combines the real stories of WWII heroes with the story of her characters.  The book affected me deeply as I imagined the risks many took to help their family and others as well as the choices they were faced.  I enjoyed how Gohkle kept pointing to God orchestrating events when it seemed like they were left alone.  Instead, when there seems to be no other way, God shows up in an incredible way.

Once I started the book, I could not put it down.  I shed some tears as I grew closer to the characters and walked with them on their journey.  I finished the book but continued to think about the book a long time afterwards. I felt like some parts were rather graphic but again the nature of the topic led to this expectation that it would be in some parts.  This is my first book by Gohkle and I thoroughly enjoyed it.   I look forward to reading more of her books.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own and I was not required to leave a positive review.
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The Medallion is one of the most poignant, memorable masterpieces of WWII historical fiction that I have ever read! Not only did it instantly grip my attention, but it held my heart captive from cover to cover. Cathy's respect for the reality of the times is clearly visible as she weaves heartbreak and hope into a novel that will stay with you forever.

The majority of the story is told through the eyes of Sophie and Rosa, however later on there are a few chapters that switch over to their husbands. How their journeys unfolded allowed the author to weave in the lives of several real-life heroes from the times. As someone who reads a lot of historical fiction and nonfiction about WWII, the seamless combination of the two had my heart in tatters. When an author can blur the lines between fiction and nonfiction while maintaining respect and appreciation for the reality---a masterpiece is truly created.

A question I found myself asking repeatedly while reading was "what would I have done?" Considering the events, today we know everything turned out. We know how people were tricked and manipulated into horrible things--on all sides of the fight. Just like you would shout at a character from a scary movie "don't open the door!" knowing what was sure to happen next, we could look at characters and say "don't get on the train!" or "don't go with the guards!" or even simply "it's a trap!" but the truth of the matter is that we already know how events would unfold. What if we were facing similar circumstances without having any idea what the outcome would be? What if we were facing almost certain death no matter which direction we turned? What if we were responsible for choosing between those same paths for our loved ones? Or even perfect strangers? Then when it came to personal conflict between people--when no one was free from suffering--I couldn't help but wonder who my heart sided with more. One of the Nazi goals in WWII was to dehumanize Jews so that it would lessen the blow of what they were truly doing. Whether they were the actual people or not, when you see events through the eyes of someone who was present at the time--it changes and affects you irreversibly.

This novel is an absolute MUST-READ. It's instantly being placed on my favorites pile and it's one that I know will stay with me. I cannot recommend this one enough!

*I received a copy of this book from the author and CelebrateLit. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
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5 + stars

It is very difficult to write a review for a book that has pulled so many different and intense emotions from me as I read it. To read of the atrocities suffered during WWII is not new, but the masterful pen of Ms. Gohlke is like no other. Yet even as I was horrified by all of the suffering in Poland during the German occupancy, I was amazed at the courage that many displayed. While this is a fictional account, it is evident that the author's research incorporated the thread of overwhelming strength and courage of those true heroes and heroines who suffered during this dark time in history. 

This is the fictional account of two couples: Janek and Sophia, Itzhak and Rosa. The love of a child will unite the two families in unexpected ways. While survival during wartime calls many to make decisions we would not contemplate during a time of peace, it is those decisions that have the power to haunt us for years to come. Ms Gohlke has several themes that will challenge her readers woven seamlessly throughout this masterpiece.

A. couple of my favorite quotes:
" We're not meant to handle life alone...It's too hard, too unpredictable, too messy and big. There is One who is willing and ready to help, to travel with us, if we let Him."

"We weren't made to walk alone, to live alone, to grieve alone. He'll carry your least let Him in."

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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I believe that this will be one of my all time favorite books ever by Cathy Gohlke.  It will also be on my top ten books I have ever read.  I don’t think that I have ever read such an in depth look at WWll in the eyes of the Polish people.  I don’t think I ever knew just how horribly they were treated.  This does hit close to home because some of my relatives came from Poland.  I laughed and cried a lot during this book.  I could not put this down.  I received a copy of this book from Celebratelit for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
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I loved WWII stories and I loved discovering ones with a unique perspective that I haven’t seen yet. Such is the case with this book.

We see through the eyes of Sophie who is not Jewish, but is a smart young woman who the Germans wouldn’t like because of that. And we see through the eyes of Rosa and Itzhak, a young Jewish couple who want to start a family in the middle of this mess.

Both of their stories are hard to read and heartbreaking but equally captivating. I found what they went through and what they had to overcome very interesting. It’s always hard to read about things that actually happened that are not good. I can’t imagine living through what they had to and surviving.

If you enjoy WWII reads I’m sure you would like this one.

A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own.
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Cathy Gohlke is a new-to-me author. I have seen her books all over the web, but hadn’t had a chance to read any until her latest WWII-era novel, The Medallion, was released. I am now a big fan of this talented author and cannot wait to dig into more of her books. The Medallion is a challenging read — it is filled with heartbreak and despair, yet has an underlying message of hope and love in the midst of the cruelest of situations. And though many of its images were hard to take, I just could not put down this riveting novel. Told with sensitivity and grace, The Medallion is one of the best novels I have read all year. It definitely earns a very highly recommended rating.

Set from the time of the Nazi invasion of Poland through the harrowing war years and the rebuilding following the demise of the Nazi regime, The Medallion focuses on the heroism of ordinary people determined to do whatever they can to save lives, especially those of the children of Warsaw’s ghetto. There are two parallel stories — Itzhak and Rosa, a young Jewish couple with an infant who are forced into the ghetto, and Sophie, a British woman married to a Polish pilot who resolves not to play it safe, but to work against the enemy. The two stories intersect and intertwine midway through the book. The abrupt devastation that the invasion brought to both Poles and Jews is vividly described. Even though I have read many books set in this time period, Gohlke communicated it in a way I have never experienced. Sacrifice, danger, daring, and bravery are exhibited throughout the book, even in the midst of circumstances that were truly hopeless. The characters are both ordinary and extraordinary — they faced fears and doubts, yet drew from a deep well of tenacity, perseverance, and faith. I loved how the author drew upon real life events and historical figures to bring a greater depth to the reading experience. The message of God’s sovereignty is powerfully portrayed, yet the book is never preachy. Many lived out their convictions in the face of great danger and often certain death. I especially loved how God’s orchestration of events is shown in spite of man’s attempts to manipulate them.

I could go on and on about this many layered story. But instead I will just say, read this book! The Medallion is one that will stay with you for a very long time. I promise you will want to talk about it, so just go ahead and get your book club or group of friends reading it too. You (and them) will not be sorry!

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for book clubs.

Audience: adults.
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‘The world can be better if there’s love, tolerance and humility’ - Irena Sendler 

August 1938 ‘I give you this medallion for you and for our children’s children’. Its 1939 and Warsaw is being bombed by the Germans. Safety seems to be a thing of the past. New identities are being forged for those who might be questioned and arrested. The Jewish people are required to wear a band on their sleeve to identify themselves. Curfew is set and one dare not break it lest you be shot. The ghetto is being built and the Jews are ‘encouraged to move in for their safety’! Food is scarce and people are dying in the streets. I can’t imagine the fear the mothers felt when they gave their babies to Yolanda (Irena Sendler) to be cared for by willing strangers. Was it possible that they would ever see them again?

Help when help is needed regardless of the cost - a statement that I have to wonder how many of us would be ready to pay that cost. The extraordinary detail given by the author captivated my thoughts even after I was no longer reading. It really is hard to believe the savagery that was perpetrated against the Jewish people and those who sympathized with them. These atrocities must never happen again! 

‘Nothing will happen is you do not believe, if you do not hope!’ Hope is seen in many characters, not the least of which is a little girl who brings some healing to two different families. I highly recommend this fabulous book which will have you crying, sitting on the edge of your seat holding your breath and wondering if learning to live is even possible after surviving such horror. 

I received this ARC through NetGalley and CelebrateLit. A positive review was not expected and the impressions and opinions given are my own.
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The Medallion, by Cathy Gohlke, is a thoroughly breathtaking novel. Within the pages of this book, Ms. Gohlke has composed a heart-wrenching and profoundly moving story of loss, redemption, love, and family. This is a novel that courageously explores humanity’s capacity for love and hate, hope and despair, self-sacrifice and cruelty, perseverance and struggle, and faithfulness and uncertainty. With unflinching skill, Ms. Gohlke leads the reader on an intense journey through horrific events that test the resiliency of the human heart and the human will to fight for significance and survival. Yet, this journey through and beyond tragedy and despair is fastidiously bolstered and uplifted by authentic moments of grace and gentle reminders that hope, healing, and restoration are ultimately made possible through God’s mercy and unconditional love.
With buildings ravaged by bombs and cities under the tyranny of the Nazi regime, the uncertainty of daily life in Poland during WWII becomes unfathomable, especially for the persecuted Jewish people and those committed to helping them. It is within this setting that the characters come alive to the reader. In their raw vulnerability and heartrending authenticity, the characters are simply captivating. Their fears, their needs, their desires, and their actions are wholly believable and gripping. The opportunities, the choices, and the trials that the characters endure are intricately developed, and from them there unfurls a story that is extremely poignant, emotionally-stirring, and thought-provoking.
The Medallion is truly an outstanding novel from the first word to the last. Ms. Gohlke’s talent for storytelling is impeccable. Her writing is well-researched, descriptive, and incredibly immersive. Within every paragraph and page there is deep meaning, real truth, and thoughtful purpose. This remarkably tender story is relevant, fascinating, and unforgettable. I recommend it wholeheartedly.  
*I received a copy of this novel through Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. The review I have written is voluntary and contains opinions that are entirely my own.
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Alright friends grab a box (or three) of tissues and settle in for an emotional journey with Cathy Gohlke’s newest World War II novel.

The Medallion is set in Poland, and Gohlke excels in giving readers different perspectives but ramping up the emotions with each character’s journey. There’s Sophia and Janek, a woman from England who married a Polish man who is now a pilot in the country’s air force. And Rosa and Itzhak, newlyweds who come to Poland to care for Rosa’s mother.

From the ghettos to work camps to the underground group working to save as many as they can, and a harrowing journey to England, Gohlke delves into the horrors, the heartbreak, the courage, and the kindness of those surrounded by the evil that was the German war machine.

Without giving anything away (because this book needs to be experienced), there are some extremely difficult moments in The Medallion, moments that, according to the author’s note, are at least steeped in truth. And others that made me consider what I might do in a similar situation. When you’ve lived through the horrors of war, would you be willing to let go of the one thing that gave you hope?

These are the questions that will linger after the final page is turned and the final word is read. 

Disclosure statement:
I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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